There is a Kiddush following the service each Shabbat and Festival morning. Wine, whisky, coffee, cakes, biscuits, fruits and other refreshments are provided by the synagogue.
Anyone may sponsor a Kiddush in honour of a special occasion. There are three different levels of Kiddush – further information about these is available from the office.
This Seudah is held between Mincha and Ma’ariv on Shabbat afternoon. People may sponsor this on the occasion of a Yahrzeit or a special event.
Details of available dates, times and sponsorship can be obtained from the Office.
“Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis I, 28) is the first Mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah.
Jews place high value on having children and consider children the greatest blessing in their lives. It is traditional for the father of a new born baby (of either sex) to attend the synagogue on the first Monday, Thursday or Shabbat morning after the birth. He will be “called up” to the reading of the Torah and a special prayer will be said for the health of the mother and baby. If the baby is a girl, she may be given her name on this occasion. (see below)
NAMING THE BABY
“A good name is better than precious oil” (Ecclesiastes VII.1) Every Jewish child should be given a Hebrew name. This is the name which will be used for purposes of Jewish law. It will appear on religious documents (e.g. the Ketuba – the Jewish marriage document) and will be used in religious ceremonies (e.g. when “called up” to the Torah).
The Hebrew name takes the form of ‘Moshe ben (son of) Mordechai’ or ‘Sarah bat (daughter of) Mordechai’.
If the father is a Kohen or Levi, that status is also included, e.g ‘Moshe ben Mordechai HaKohen’, or ‘Sarah Bat Mordechai HaLevi’.
Every Jew is classified by status as either, a Kohen, Levi or Israel.
Generally it is the father’s name which is used, however, there are some instances (e.g. in prayers for the sick) when the mother’s name is substituted and ‘Moshe ben Mordechai’ becomes ‘Moshe ben Esther’.
It might be helpful, when choosing a Hebrew name to visit the Internet, say via Google, and search “Hebrew Names for Boys/Girls” or obtain a publication from the synagogue’s Book & Gift Shop. These sources provide the meanings/derivations of Hebrew names.
The BHH synagogue provides all new parents with a certificate recording the child’s full Hebrew name.
This often proves useful as a reminder at a later date.
Secular names registered on the birth certificate and by which the child may normally be known, could be an English version of the Hebrew name, a similar sounding English name or an unrelated English name.
A child may be named after a relative.
The custom for Ashkenazim (European Jews) is to use the name of a deceased relative, whereas Sephardim often name a child in honour of an esteemed or beloved living relative.
The name of a baby boy is given at the Brit (see below). It is traditional not to announce the name before the Brit.
Baby girls are named at a synagogue service – as mentioned above – when the father is “called up” during the Reading of the Torah on the first Monday, Thursday or Shabbat after the birth.
A naming ceremony may also be arranged at home for a baby girl (see below).
Shalom Zachar means “greeting the male”.
On the first Friday night after the birth, some families invite friends and relatives to join them at home for an informal celebration, where drinks and light refreshments are served.
Shalom Bat, means “greeting the daughter”. A similar custom has been adopted by some families to welcome the arrival of a baby girl.
“Every male among you shall be circumcised……….he that is eight days old” (Genesis 17, 10-12).
Brit means a covenant with G-d, a promise of faith. Every father is responsible for ensuring the circumcision of his son. The Brit must be held on the eighth day after the birth, even on a Shabbat or Festival and may only be postponed for medical reasons.
It should be noted that in the Jewish calendar, days begin at nightfall, so that for example, a child born on a Wednesday evening after nightfall, would have his Brit on the following Thursday.
A Brit is held in the daytime, preferable in the morning. A Minyan (religious quorum of ten males) should be present if possible – if not, the Brit must still proceed.
The Brit is performed by a “Mohel”. He is a pious, observant Jew, a specialist who has passed a searching examination by Rabbinic Authorities and has been granted a certificate of qualification. Many communities have their own Mohel and he should be contacted as soon as possible after the baby boy is born.
The Mohel will visit the baby before (and after) the Brit and explain the ceremony to the parents. The parents must choose:
1) A ‘Sandek’ – the man who will hold the baby during the Brit. This is a position of great honour.
2) ‘Kvatters’ – a married or engaged couple who bring the baby from the mother to the Brit. This couple often develop a special bond with the baby as he grows up.
Traditionally guests are informed of the time and place of the Brit but are not formally ‘invited’. Attendance at a Brit is considered a Mitzvah (commandment) and one should not decline to attend, if asked.
After the brief ceremony, there is a celebration with refreshments known as the Seudat Mitzvah (Feast for a Commandment).
SIMCHAT BAT – (naming ceremony for baby girls).
This ceremony is relatively new, so there is no standard procedure but it may well include carrying in the baby ceremoniously, with the mother and/or father reciting “Birkat HaGomel” and “Shehecheyanu”.
Also special prayers giving the Hebrew name plus Biblical readings, speeches and then blessings over wine, followed by refreshments.
Families wishing to arrange a baby naming ceremony for a daughter should contact the office and/or the Rabbi.
“From a month old shalt thou redeem them……for five shekels of silver” (Numbers 18, 16).
First born sons have to be ‘redeemed’ to free them from their original obligation to serve in the Sanctuary. The ceremony is simple and takes place on the 31st day after the birth but not if this falls on Shabbat or a Festival. Even if the child has not been circumcised due to ill health, he must be redeemed on the 31st day.
The father hands five shekels or its equivalent in silver as redemption money (consult the Rabbi for current value) to a Kohen – who should be an observant Jew. The ceremony is followed by a Seudah – Festive Meal.
The complete service can be found in the Siddur.
The Pidyon HaBen is not performed where:
The firstborn child is a girl.
The father is a Kohen or Levi.
The mother is the daughter of a Kohen or Levi.
The birth was by Caesarean section.
There has been a previous miscarriage.
There is a special prayer of thanks in the Siddur, which a woman may recite on her first visit to the synagogue after her baby is born.
BABY BLESSING CEREMONY
“Twice a year, at Chanukah and Shavuot, the BHH holds a Baby Blessing Ceremony. The Chanukah ceremony usually takes place on the Sunday morning of the festival. As well as the babies, the mums and expectant mums are given a special blessing.
The ceremony on Shavuot usually takes place on the second day at the end of the morning Service and is followed by the communal lunch and programme that has now become an annual occasion at the BHH. There is also the increasingly popular option of a private baby blessing ceremony for new-born girls, either at the Synagogue or at home.